A Call to Humility for Megachurch Pastors

It is an amazing privilege to lead a large and growing community of faith. We love the church, have given our lives to its expansion, and now find ourselves in one of the vanguards of its expression.

Ours is not an easy role to fill. We face the caustic pens of bitter bloggers, misunderstanding from the media, criticism from fellow pastors in our hometowns, and the expectation to walk on water. We are not in a fish bowl; we are in a Petri dish. Stuart Briscoe once wrote that the qualifications of a pastor are the heart of a child, the mind of a scholar, and the hide of a rhinoceros.

All to say, we need that hide.

But I am greatly concerned for the reputation of our role, particularly of late. Celebrity status has rained down on many of us, and it is a great responsibility to steward – as is the size of the congregations we lead. Some of that stewardship has come under fire, and in some cases, deservedly so. 

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It’s not simply the moral failures that have made the news, but our egos, attitudes, book content, conference addresses, and public actions that are creating increasing cynicism from both Christians and non-Christians alike. Further, more pastors are achieving megachurch status at a younger age than ever before without the traditional time to gain a few years of wisdom under a more senior leader.

As a fellow pastor of a church with thousands in attendance on any given weekend and nearly thirty years of pastoral experience, here is my humble plea to us all:

1. Let us give up the cult of personality. 

The church is not about us. Jesus is who we are trying to make famous, not ourselves. We are not rock stars and should never act as if we are – or let others treat us that way. 

2. Let us maintain a strong hold on historic Christian orthodoxy in our writing and teaching. 

Let us not become infected with false doctrine, for when we sneeze, a great many people can catch cold.

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James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.